“Five. He’s a great kid, but he’s a handful for my brother. My mom and sister help out a lot. When we’re not working, we spend as much time with him as we can. We would do anything for him and anything for each other.”
A small pang of grief hit me. Usually, I didn’t miss being part of a family—can’t miss what you never really had—but a big part of me ached for the bond the James family shared.
When we got into Evan’s car, he gave me a sideways glance and grinned. “Where to now? How about Vegas? We could go to the airfield and jump in my jet. We’ll be in Sin City before you know it.”
“Or how about you just take me home,” I suggested. “We can do Vegas another time.”
“I can do that too.”
I gave him my address, and while he drove, I flicked through the preprogrammed stations searching for something that wasn’t classic rock.
“Geez! How old are you, fifty?”
“What’s up? You don’t like Def Leppard?”
“Who?” I changed the dial to yet another classic rock station.
“Good song.” Evan’s head started moving to the beat.
“I don’t know this either. Sorry.”
“How can you not know this? It’s Whole Lotta Love by Led Zepplin.”
I shook my head. “I’ve never heard it before.”
We pulled up to a red light, and he looked over at me, amusement crinkling his eyes. “You’re kidding, right?”
I stared at him blankly.
He turned his attention back to the road and started driving when the light turned green. “It has one of the most famous guitar riffs ever played. My mom raised us on hair bands from the ’70s and ’80s. She was the ultimate groupie. The stories she tells after a couple of glasses of wine would turn your pink hair white.”
I laughed. “I think I’d like to hear them. Your mom has grabbed coffee a few times after stopping by the office to see you and your brothers. I’ll never look at her in the same light again. Her perfectly styled mom bob hides a wild-child past.”
“She would love nothing more than to tell you about the time she met my dad. He worked as a roadie, and he caught her sneaking backstage at a Whitesnake concert. The result of that particular adventure is called Cade.”
“I’ve never seen your dad before. Does he ever come by the office?”
He drummed his fingers against the steering wheel. “He left when our sister was still in diapers. Living in suburbia with four kids wasn’t the life for him. Anytime he came home from being on the road, he was like a trapped bear.”
“You don’t sound bitter about him leaving.”
“What’s the point?” He said and shrugged. “Their divorce was amicable. Life’s too short for grudges or bitterness. I won’t let something that happened when I was a kid color my view of life or him. He was mostly on the road even when they were married anyway. Growing up, we saw him when life allowed, and he always supported our mom and us financially. He won’t take a cent from us now or retire, even though he should.”
I wanted to be more like Evan. I didn’t want my past to color my view of life, but I didn’t have a clue on how to make that happen. My past was so ingrained in the fibers of my soul that it would always control my choices and emotions.
We finally settled on a station that played alternative music and sat in companionable silence.
After a while, he shot me a quick glance. “Any plans for the holiday weekend?”
“I’m working Saturday, but I’m off Sunday and Monday. I’m going to play catch up with invoices. I might drive to the beach and walk the boardwalk. What exciting end of summer plans do you have? Tell me so I can live vicariously through you.”
“I plan to pick you up on Sunday morning, then you and I are going to go to the beach and spend the day together. You’re going to relax, you’re going to breathe, and you’re going to swim. After that, you’re going to drink some champagne while we watch fireworks.”
I turned in my seat to face him. “I’m not going to do any of those things.”
He reached across the dashboard and placed his hand on my thigh. “You’re going to do all of those things. You should know by now, I don’t take no for an answer.”
“You’ve made that more than obvious.” I didn’t know if his not taking no for an answer excited or terrified me. From the damp patch in my underwear, it wasn’t hard to understand what my body thought.
Evan James would bring a lot of trouble my way, but for the first time in the longest while, I welcomed it.
Maybe it was time for me to let someone in. Maybe it was time to trust. Not everyone I fell in love with would lead me down the wrong path. And not everyone I let into my heart would ask me to hold a gun to someone’s head.